Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Lighter Load: One bad apple spoils the whole bunch, sours industry image in a flash


Wednesday, July 21, 2010
by BARB KAMPBELL

No matter how many times industry advocates tout truckers as being a necessity to every human being in the United States, what the average four-wheeler sees and thinks can outweigh 100 good messages.
No matter how many times industry advocates tout truckers as being a necessity to every human being in the United States, what the average four-wheeler sees and thinks can outweigh 100 good messages.

I don’t personally know of one single trucking related publication or agency that does not go out on a limb every day to promote the industry, including its drivers, and that includes The Trucker.

On July 1 I was reminded of how important it is, and sometimes how, no matter what we do, there’s always going to be one who spoils it for the whole industry.

Early in the morning on that day, I posted on my personal Facebook page that I was going to a local truck stop to interview drivers. And while I post about going there from time to time it was the first time I posted something reminding my friends that truck drivers bring everything that they have in their homes other than whatever food they grow themselves.

And in reply, I found later when I returned to a computer, a friend had written, “And run me off I-40 between [Little Rock] and Memphis, [Tenn.].” How could I argue with that considering the last time I drove that same highway returning to Little Rock from Memphis there were truckers driving so fast that I could not keep up with them?

The next thing that happened in my day was when I was in the waiting room at a local clinic to get an MRI. I was wearing a back brace because I’d been diagnosed with a stress fracture, but wanted further testing with an MRI.

After I’d completed my paperwork the lone person in the waiting room asked, “Did you get hit by a truck?” At first I didn’t quite hear her and then it dawned on me what she said. I asked, “Do you mean a big truck, an 18-wheeler?” I was, understandably a little bit ticked off. And she said, yes, she did. You see, many years ago near Dallas she and her family were hit by a trucker and she said there wasn’t another vehicle in sight, in broad daylight, and on dry pavement. It sounded to me as if he fell asleep. She seemed to think he was “on drugs.” And she was fortunate to be alive, all of them were, since she said her vehicle went airborne, flew over a guardrail and went 60 feet down what she called a spaghetti bowl.

And lastly, the most agonizing thing of all that day was when I read in a free weekly statewide publication a column called “The Observer” where the subject of a bad apple trucker was given almost a fourth of a page of copy.

The Observer, (which can be anyone on staff at the Arkansas Times), had three observed items in the column in the issue I was reading from July 1.

This particular item told of The Observer, who while driving from Little Rock to Texarkana on Interstate 30, saw something I wish he hadn’t:

“Somewhere long about Prescott our girlfriend looked out the passenger side window as we passed a towering, white diesel truck. The trucker had, quite inventively, taped a sign to his window, facing out toward would-be passersby. Written in thick, black permanent marker were the words, ‘Show t**s please,’ followed by a happy little smiley-face.”

‘Great,’ I thought as I read this. No matter how many times industry advocates tout truckers as being a necessity to every human being in the United States, what the average four-wheeler sees and thinks can outweigh 100 good messages.

That one stupid sign — which I’m sure was good for a few laughs, a few flashes, and probably more middle fingers — is equivalent to the saying, “a picture is worth a thousand words.”

That is the picture that every person who saw that sign has in their mind of truckers. Not the numerous messages sent out every day, mostly preaching to the choir, about how important you, the truck driver is.

To those truckers who have higher standards than what that one did, I know you are even more frustrated than me. If you see a guy like that and have an opportunity to chat with him, please, in a professional and respectful way explain to him what he’s doing to his own job, his own bread and butter, and the industry as a whole.

Show restraint when you want to rip the sign out of his window and cram it down his throat because our industry is better than that. Let him and those who throw pee bottles and other garbage out on the parking lots and streets know that our industry is not about trashy people. I know you are tired of the battle, but only you can change what happens out on the highways.

Barb Kampbell of The Trucker staff can be reached for comment at barbkampbell@thetrucker.com.

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